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"How many shells did you get in your hunt?" Bert asked the girls, when the excitement over the pond lilies had died away.
"We never went," replied Dorothy. "First, Freddie fell down and had to cry awhile, then he had to stop to see the gutter band, next he had a ride on the five-cent donkey, and by that time there were so many people out, mother said there would not be a pretty shell left, so we decided to go to-morrow morning."
"Then Hal and I will go along," said Bert. "I want to look for nets, to put in my den at home."
"We are going for a swim now," went on Dorothy; "we only came back for our suits."
"There seems so much to do down here, it will take a week to have a try at everything," said Bert. "I've only been in the water once, but I'm going for a good swim now. Come along, Hal."
"Yes, we always go before lunch," said Hal starting off for his suit.
Soon Dorothy, Nan, Nellie, and Flossie appeared with their suits done up in the neat little rubber bags that Aunt Emily had bought at a hospital fair. Then Freddie came with Mrs. Bobbsey, and Dorothy, with her bag on a stick over her shoulder, led the procession to the beach.
As Dorothy told Nan, they had a comfortable bathhouse rented for the season, with plenty of hooks to hang things on, besides a mirror, to see how one's hair looked, after the waves had done it up mermaid fashion.
It did not take the girls long to get ready, and presently all appeared on the beach in pretty blue and white suits, with the large white sailor collars, that always make bathing suits look just right, because real sailors wear that shape of collar.
Flossie wore a white flannel suit, and with her pretty yellow curls, she "looked like a doll," so Nellie said. Freddie's suit was white too, as he always had things as near like his twin sister's as a boy's clothes could be. Altogether the party made a pretty summer picture, as they ran down to the waves, and promptly dipped in.
"Put your head under or you'll take cold," called Dorothy, as she emerged from a big wave that had completely covered her up.
Nellie and Nan "ducked" under, but Flossie was a little timid, and held her mother's right hand even tighter than Freddie clung to her left.
"We must get hold of the ropes," declared Mrs. Bobbsey, seeing a big wave coming.
They just reached the ropes when the wave caught them. Nellie and Nan were out farther, and the billow struck Nellie with such force it actually washed her up on shore.
"Ha! ha!" laughed Dorothy, "Nellie got the first tumble." And then the waves kept dashing in so quickly that there was no more chance for conversation. Freddie ducked under as every wave came, but Flossie was not always quick enough, and it was very hard for her to keep hold of the ropes when a big splasher dashed against her. Dorothy had not permission to swim out as far as she wanted to go, for her mother did not allow her outside the lines, excepting when Mr. Minturn was swimming near her, so she had to be content with floating around near where the other girls bounced up and down, like the bubbles on the billows.
"Look out, Nan!" called Dorothy, suddenly, as Nan stood for a moment fixing her belt. But the warning came too late, for the next minute a wave picked Nan up and tossed her with such force against a pier, that everybody thought she must be hurt. Mrs. Bobbsey was quite frightened, and ran out on the beach, putting Freddie and Flossie at a safe distance from the water, while she made her way to where Nan had been tossed.
For a minute or so, it seemed, Nan disappeared, but presently she bobbed up, out of breath, but laughing, for Hal had her by the hand, and was helping her to shore. The boys had been swimming around by themselves near by, and Hal saw the wave making for Nan just in time to get there first.
"I had to swim that time," laughed Nan, "whether I knew how or not."
"You made a pretty good attempt," Hal told her; "and the water is very deep around those piles. You had better not go out so far again, until you've learned a few strokes in the pools. Get Dorothy to teach you."
"Oh, oh, oh, Nellie!" screamed Mrs. Bobbsey. "Where is she? She has gone under that wave!"
Sure enough, Nellie had disappeared. She had only let go the ropes one minute, but she had her back to the ocean watching Nan's rescue, when a big billow struck her, knocked her down, and then where was she?
"Oh," cried Freddie. "She is surely drowned!"
Hal struck out toward where Nellie had been last seen, but he had only gone a few strokes when Bert appeared with Nellie under his arm. She had received just the same kind of toss Nan got, and fortunately Bert was just as near by to save her, as Hal had been to save Nan. Nellie, too, was laughing and out of breath when Bert towed her in.
"I felt like a rubber ball," she said, as soon as she could speak, "and Bert caught me on the first bounce."
"You girls should have ropes around your waists, and get someone to hold the other end," teased Dorothy, coming out with the others on the sands.
"Well, I think we have all had enough of the water for this morning," said Mrs. Bobbsey, too nervous to let the girls go in again.
Boys and girls were willing to take a sun bath on the beach, so, while Hal and Bert started in to build a sand house for Freddie, the four girls capered around, playing tag and enjoying themselves generally. Flossie thought it great fun to dig for the little soft crabs that hide in the deep damp sand. She found a pasteboard box and into this she put all her fish.
"I've got a whole dozen!" she called to Freddie, presently. But Freddie was so busy with his sand castle he didn't have time to bother with baby crabs.
"Look at our fort," called Bert to the girls. "We can shoot right through our battlements," he declared, as he sank down in the sand and looked out through the holes in the sand fort.
"Shoot the Indian and you get a cigar," called Dorothy, taking her place as "Indian" in front of the fort, and playing target for the boys.
First Hal tossed a pebble through a window in the fort, then Bert tried it, but neither stone went anywhere near Dorothy, the "Indian."
"Now, my turn," she claimed, squatting down back of the sand wall and taking aim at Hal, who stood out front.
And if she didn't hit him--just on the foot with a little white pebble!
"Hurrah for our sharpshooter!" cried Bert.
Of course the hard part of the trick was to toss a pebble through the window without knocking down the wall, but Dorothy stood to one side, and swung her arm, so that the stone went straight through and reached Hal, who stood ten feet away.
"I'm next," said Nellie, taking her place behind "the guns."
Nellie swung her arm and down came the fort!
"Oh my!" called Freddie, "you've knocked down the whole gun wall. You'll have to be---"
"Court-martialed," said Hal, helping Freddie out with his war terms.
"She's a prisoner of war," announced Bert, getting hold of Nellie, who dropped her head and acted like someone in real distress. Just as if it were all true, Nan and Dorothy stood by, wringing their hands, in horror, while the boys brought the poor prisoner to the frontier, bound her hands with a piece of cord, and stood her up against an abandoned umbrella pole.
Hal acted as judge.
"Have you anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced upon you?" he asked in a severe voice.
"I have," sighed Nellie. "I did not intend to betray my country. The enemy caused the--the--downfall of Quebec," she stammered, just because the name of that place happened to come to her lips.
"Who is her counsel?" asked the Judge.
"Your honor," spoke up Dorothy, "this soldier has done good service. She has pegged stones at your honor with good effect, she has even captured a company of wild pond lilies in your very ranks, and now, your honor, I plead for mercy."
The play of the children had, by this time, attracted quite a crowd, for the bathing hour was over, and idlers tarried about.
"Fair play!" called a strange boy in the crowd, taking up the spirit of fun. "That soldier has done good service. She took a sassy little crab out of my ear this very day!"
Freddie looked on as if it were all true. Flossie did not laugh a bit, but really seemed quite frightened.
"I move that sentence be pronounced," called Bert, being on the side of the prosecution.
"The prisoner will look this way!" commanded Hal.
Nellie tossed back her wet brown curls and faced the crowd.
"The sentence of the court is that the prisoner be transported for life," announced Hal, while four boys fell in around Nellie, and she silently marched in military fashion toward the bathing pavilion, with Dorothy and Nan at her heels.
Here the war game ended, and everyone was satisfied with that day's fun on the sands.
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